The theater at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center has a name: The Bettiol Theater.
About 115 people gathered in the Foothills atrium for a ceremony Sunday afternoon to dedicate the theater and to celebrate the support of the Bettiol family.
“We thank you so much,” Carol Blazina, president of the Foothills board, said in comments directed toward Eugene Bettiol Sr. and his wife, Elizabeth, who were in front-row seats at the event.
A plaque beside the main entry door to the theater reads: Dedicated to the Bettiol Family, Eugene Sr. and Elizabeth Bettiol, Eugene Jr. Bettiol and Family, Jan Laytham and Family, Jaci Bettiol and Family, for their vision and commitment to the Foothills PAC’s mission, 2013.
The unveiling of the theater’s name and the ceremony were a well-guarded secret kept from Bettiol Sr., a local businessman, a long-time supporter of Foothills and an emeritus board member.
Eugene Bettiol Sr. addressed the gathering, saying “this is unwarranted” and thanking the board for the recognition.
“I didn’t have an inkling as to what was going on,” he said. “You surprised me. … thank you.”
The event, about an hour long, included speeches by politicians, Foothills leaders and Bettiol family members. Tributes were made in words and songs, with mentions of the family’s generations-long love of music. Guests included Foothills supporters and Bettiol relatives and friends.
The ceremony was bittersweet, with applause for the Bettiols and the success of Foothills tempered by references to family challenges, including the 2003 death of Eugene Bettiol Jr. at age 47 after a battle with cancer.
On Sunday, Elizabeth “Betty” Bettiol also expressed gratitude for honors presented by Foothills.
After Eugene Jr.’s death, she said, she wrote her obituary during training to become a hospice volunteer. Through that exercise, she learned that the only thing she wanted was “to love and be loved,” she said, and her “small part in making Foothills a reality” was “all because of you.”